Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meriden, CT: Slain Meriden man's girlfriend has history of domestic violence

MERIDEN - The girlfriend of a man shot to death in his Olive Street apartment Friday has a long history of arrests, including charges in five domestic violence incidents that resulted in convictions.
Police said Tuesday that they had interviewed the girlfriend as part of the investigation and that she was present in the apartment at the time Richard West Jr. died. Police did not identify her and they have not named any suspects.
West, 49, was found shot in the chest in his first-floor apartment at 76 Olive St. early Friday morning. The death has been ruled a homicide, and police have confirmed that the weapon used in the killing was West's own handgun.
According to friends of the couple, West had been living with Melissa Ziemba for several months and they were seen together in the neighborhood and at American Legion Post 45 on Hanover Road.
Ziemba's name appears on the mailbox of the apartment where West lived. She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Ziemba, 41, has been arrested 15 times in 14 years in Colorado and Connecticut on charges of assault, domestic violence, threatening and harassment, according to records in the Colorado Court Database and Connecticut Judicial Branch websites.
From 1998 to 2007, she was charged in five domestic violence incidents and convicted on charges of harassment-strike/shove, kick. She was also charged with assault in 2004, but was convicted of harassment-strike/shove, kick. In July 2007, Ziemba was charged with felony assault, but was convicted of felony menacing with a real or simulated weapon and disorderly conduct. She was sentenced to 14 months in prison and a three-year intensive supervision program.
In New Haven, she was convicted of assaulting a public safety or medical technician officer in 2002 and was sentenced to serve 90 days in Niantic Correctional Institution and two years probation. She violated probation by going to Colorado and was later convicted of the probation violation.
West had an on-again, off-again relationship with Ziemba, said Sharon Jarvis, his former girlfriend, and he moved in with her in early fall.
Police would not confirm Ziemba's identity, but two friends said she has been interviewed twice about West's killing.
One friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ziemba is distraught over West's death.
Friends and acquaintances described West as a nice guy who looked out for others. West was a veteran and a member of American Legion Post 45 for two years, according to Tony Gianakos, a member of Post 45.
"He seemed like a regular guy, always clean-cut," Gianakos said. "He was also a sociable guy and never caused any trouble."
West worked as a truck driver for JP Express in Northford for about 13 months.
"This is terrible," said company manager Jeff Passanter. "He was a reliable, hard-working good guy."
Police are continuing their investigation and have asked anyone with information to contact Detective John Wagner at (203) 630-6318.
(203) 317-2255

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